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Researchers Describe Gene Activity in Living Cells

WEDNESDAY, April 27 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers in New York City say they are the first to observe the activity of a single gene in living cells.

A team at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University watched, in real time, the process of gene transcription in living yeast cells, they say. Transcription occurs when a gene converts its DNA information into molecules of messenger RNA (mRNA) that then make the protein coded by the gene.

The researchers were able to see the gene in action by using fluorescent proteins.

"The view of transcription in yeast that emerges from this study is that its initiation seems to be a random event that depends on the success of transcription factors searching through the yeast nucleus looking for a particular genes promoter region," senior author Robert Singer, co-director of the Gruss Lipper Biophotonics Center at Einstein, said in a college news release. "By contrast, once initiation occurs, RNA polymerase recruits individual nucleotides for the growing mRNA molecule in an efficient and predictable manner."

The study was published online April 22 in the journal Science.

"Understanding how gene expression is regulated in a single-celled organism such as yeast is a first step in understanding the same processes in humans, which have a vastly larger and more complex genome," lead author Daniel Larson said in the news release. "But fundamentally, the same molecular laws governing transcription factors will still apply."

The U.S. National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences funded the research.

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The University of Utah gives you the opportunity to transcribe and translate a gene.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, news release, April 21, 2011

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